What are acupoints?

In Chinese, acupuncture points are referred to as “Shu Xue” which means ‘communicating holes’. Shu translates as transporting, distributing or communicating; and Xue means hole, outlet or depression.

Equine acupressure fingers on horse leg
Two-Finger Technique

From a Traditional Chinese and metaphorical perspective, acupoints are like energy bundles on or near the body’s surface. As the name suggests, acupoints are often depressions which are palpable with our fingers.

The majority of acupoints is found on so-called meridians or channels. These are referred to as transpositional points which, together with the meridians, were transferred from the human medical system and further developed by veterinarians; whereas traditionally, only acupoints and no meridians were used in veterinary medicine. In addition to transpositional acupoints, some practitioners – me too – still use certain acupoints from Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) referred to as Classical Points which are not located on a meridian.

Originally, acupoints were selected based on observation and documentation for their therapeutic effects.

But also, scientific research has shown the unique characteristics and qualities of certain acupoints in the form of local concentrations or sites of transmissions such as nerve bundles, fascial planes, myofascial trigger points, motor points, lymphatics, muscular junctions and more. In the hands-on practice of both acupressure and acupuncture, acupoints are important both for assessment and session work. The responses and sensitivities at certain acupoints are used to identify any issues and the resulting pattern which is the basis of a session protocol and acupoint selection. The selected acupoints are then used for point work with acupressure, i.e. stimulation with our hands and fingers, or needling known as acupuncture.